Mike Underwood President Underwood Events LLC
“As soon as COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March, we began receiving cancellation inquiries from clients. By the middle of April, 100% of our clients had canceled events for the remainder of the year.
“In an industry that is predicated on physically bringing people together, our firm’s future was at risk because it was impossible to do that very thing. But like so many of our colleagues and partners in the sphere of corporate event management, we learned to be more nimble and adapt in ways we never anticipated. Clients began looking to us as subject matter experts in topics ranging from safely bringing small groups together and virtual formats for communicating messages to key stakeholders to food safety guidelines and force majeure contract clauses.
“We were forced to make decisions and establish key strategies in a matter of weeks, if not days. As a result, we introduced a new core service, Underwood Corporate Concierge, that is a viable solution for business people who need assistance with both routine and unique tasks but who may no longer feel safe completing them.
“While we are slowly seeing signs of business returning, our forecasts are nowhere near pre-pandemic levels. Our patience and nimble reaction to the ever-changing business climate has positioned us to recover as our industry does.”[caption id="attachment_515786" align="alignleft" width="300"] Charlotte Fairburn[/caption]
Charlotte Fairburn Owner Aesthetics 360
“The challenges of 2020 have resulted in a series of lessons related to planning, diversifying resources and learning to pivot at a moment’s notice. The main lesson I’ve learned is that there is power in community.
“Be it local community, the community of small business owners, or the community within the aesthetic industry. The help of some of my colleagues has recently gotten me through staffing challenges because I asked for help. Vendors helped out while we were closed, with extending invoice payment terms. Our clients have stayed loyal. In turn, we have been able to create three new jobs. We gave away 50 free facials to essential workers and will be giving back to the community by implementing a charitable donations program for the upcoming holiday season.
“Tapping into the resources available around us allows our business to stay strong, keep our employees and service our clients. I have learned to not be afraid to ask for help. In 2021 and beyond, I will continue to look for ways to contribute as an employer to my team, a provider to our clients, a member of the local small business community, and as a resource to others in my industry.”[caption id="attachment_515788" align="alignleft" width="300"] Rob Levin[/caption]
Rob Levin Vice President of Operations F Street Hospitality
“For the food and beverage industry, tourism industry, disposable income industries, this has been a year like no other. I think I speak for all restaurateurs when I say in my entire career of more than 30 years, the past eight months have been the most challenging. With that being said, I truly believe in times of struggle, there is always a silver lining.
“For our industry, it has always been about nickels and dimes. Moving forward, at least for the unforeseeable future, it will be about pennies. Doing more with less will take on a whole new meaning up and down the industry — smaller menus, smaller staff who are more versatile, the need for cross training at an all time high. Less purveyors on all levels to maximize buying power and rebate programs. And stronger leadership.
“The leaders of our industry must invest in their people more intently, more diligently, and more empathetically to fully understand that every single decision we make these days will cost us or make us pennies. And looking around the restaurant world, we all have very few pennies to lose.”